APS has selected two young physicists as the Society's newest Mass Media Fellows. Nellie Andreeva, a graduate student in physics at the University of Maine in Orono, will spend this summer at Business Week magazine in New York. Zohra Aziza Baccouche of Hampton University will begin her fellowship at CNN this fall.
Andreeva received MS degrees in both physics and TV and radio journalism from Sofia University in Bulgaria in 1993, and began her graduate studies at the University of Maine last year. She has long been interested in combining her interest in physics with journalism. She spent six years as a producer, writer and director of TV shows for Bulgarian National Television, creating what became the number one comedy show in Bulgaria and winning two prestigious national awards for her efforts. She has had two prior internships: one at the BBC in London, England, and another at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, organized by the University of Delaware.
Andreeva views her participation in the APS Mass Media Fellowship program as a unique opportunity to work with other physicists who share her interest in communicating science to the public. "The problem is clear: We have a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which the average person understands hardly anything about science and technology," she says. "For good or evil, the media has an enormous influence on the average person. Therefore, scientists and engineers must use it and work together, both with and as journalists." She is currently engaged in a thesis entitled "Learning Physics Through Movies," designed to pique the interest of high school and college students in physics through blockbuster films.
After receiving a BS degree in physics from the College of William and Mary in 1995, Baccouche went on to earn an MS degree last year from Hampton University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, working on a numerical calculation of the energy spectrum, wave functions and decay widths of heavy B and D mesons using a non-relativistic quark model. She hopes to pursue a career in science communication after completing her PhD because of what she perceives as a "growing need" for better communication between scientists, the media, and the general public. "As scientists, we are conjuring up research that has and will continue to have defining implications on people's lives around the world," she says. "It's important that people are aware of these implications."
Baccouche has held several prior media-related internships. She worked at Voice of America and WETA-TV in Washington, DC; and became involved in editing and producing science documentaries for NASA through its Langley Video Production Company in Hampton, VA. She currently writes for Jefferson On Target magazine, a publication the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (formerly CEBAF)